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Camden out-of-hours GP provider accused of being ‘secretive’ after death of second baby

PUBLISHED: 13:00 21 November 2013

Axel's mother Linda Peanberg King with Candy Udwin

Axel's mother Linda Peanberg King with Candy Udwin

Archant

The company responsible for Camden’s out-of-hours GP service has been accused of “secretiveness” following the revelation that it faces an investigation over the death of a second baby in under 12 months.

The as-yet unnamed infant died on September 24, just nine hours after a Harmoni GP visited the family home in Camden following an urgent call.

After performing what was claimed to be a “thorough” examination, the doctor thought no 
immediate action was required and advised the parents to see their own GP or call 999 should the 
baby’s condition deteriorate.

Camden’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) revealed that an investigation was underway at its board meeting last Wednesday.

The tragic incident occurred less than a year after seven-week-old Axel Peanberg King died in Harmoni’s care in November 2012, and four months after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) raised concerns over staff shortages.

The news has shocked health campaigners who have long had concerns about the private healthcare firm, which took over the out-of-hours service in 2010.

Candy Udwin, chairman of Camden Keep Our NHS Public, said: “This is a tragic event. As it is the second death of an infant in their care in less than a year, it raises serious questions about the service and especially its recruitment policy – whether doctors it uses are experienced in this type of emergency medicine or sufficiently trained.”

Councillors who sit on a special panel set up to scrutinise out-of-hours care, in the wake of Axel’s death and the CQC report, said they were “angry” and “alarmed” – especially as the incident was only revealed to them by a third party this week.

That is despite the fact that the healthcare giant’s representatives appeared before the panel to give evidence on October 14 – three weeks after the death.

Cllr John Bryant, the Liberal Democrat chairman of the panel, said: “I am alarmed and concerned at these latest revelations.

“I would have expected representatives from Harmoni to reveal this to us when they appeared before us. They have demonstrated a secretiveness that we would not expect from any provider.”

Dave Tee, Harmoni’s regional director, said: “We would like to offer our condolences. As is the case with any unexpected death, a multi-agency investigation was immediately launched.

“Infants’ conditions can change quite rapidly. We are awaiting the results of the investigation.

“Harmoni is always fully transparent and notified the CCG immediately. The [scrutiny panel] meeting was a public forum and it would have been disrespectful to the infant’s parents to discuss the incident in public.”

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